Global Partnership: Expanding Berklee Outreach in Latin America
In May 2012, Ann Kreis, a Berklee trustee and a parent of graduates of the 2011 and 2013 classes, led an entourage that included president Roger Brown and Latin Grammy award winner Juan Luis Guerra ’82 to meet with Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The group also included Berklee Valencia Advisory Board member Carlos Amaya; Ramiro Osorio, executive director of Bogotá’s Julio Santo Domingo Teatro Mayor; Miguel Silva, the managing director at FTI of Colombia; and me. We focused on scholarships and other high-priority ideas for IDB that that could also address Berklee’s greatest needs.
Founded in 1959 to support the efforts of Latin America and Caribbean countries to reduce poverty and inequality and to bring about development in a sustainable, climate-friendly way, IDB approved lending and grants totaling $14 billion in 2013. Through music and education, Berklee’s students and alumni have demonstrated that they can bring vitality to the region, especially now, as we seek to increase global enrollment, including a focus on Latin America. As Berklee alumni return to their homes in the region with a focus on music, they create, perform, produce, and teach music, and launch innovative and exciting new music businesses.
Following that preliminary meeting in 2012, Kreis has never wavered in her determination to successfully weave a partnership between IDB and Berklee. Now, nearly three years later, as Berklee today goes to press, Kreis’s dream is close to reality, to be made possible by a generous gift from South Korea’s Korean Poverty Reduction Fund at IDB.
An Overview of the Initiatives
With twin goals of reach and impact on the region’s poorest and most talented, IDB-Berklee program funding furnishes the much needed seed money to launch three initiatives of musical endeavor:
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Translation of five existing MOOCs into Spanish and Portuguese and production of two new MOOCs focused on education through Latin American music;
Pre-University Learning System Experience (PULSE).
Spanish translations of selected units of Berklee’s PULSE program successfully used currently within Berklee City Music schools across America; and
Interactive On-site Clinics
Implementation of interactive on-site clinics, such as Berklee Latino Workshops, in selected markets, beginning with Mexico and Colombia, including scholarships for 20 to 50 students per workshop to enable them to attend tuition-free.
MOOCs. This program aims to expand the reach of high-quality music education in Latin America by using online platforms and, specifically, to provide access to these materials to disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Latin America. Berklee currently offers five MOOCs through Coursera, a global education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer free online courses. Coursera’s mission is to empower people with education that will improve their lives and those of their families, and the communities in which they live, providing an ideal platform for this IDB-Berklee initiative.
The five Berklee MOOCs are “Developing Your Musicianship,” “Introduction to Music Production,” “Songwriting,” “Introduction to Guitar,” and “Jazz Improvisation.” The courses provide an engaging and thorough foundation in essential areas of study for aspiring musicians. Currently the courses are available only in English.
Phase one of this project involves translating English text and captioning English-language video demonstrations into Spanish and Portuguese in order to improve accessibility to Latin American audiences.
Phase two calls for developing two MOOCs (one in Spanish and one in Portuguese) with the aim of reaching youth in Latin America. Using a proven syllabus, the “Developing Your Musicianship” course will infuse Latin American music styles and interests, featuring key Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking artists who will discuss tips and techniques related to furthering the student’s musicianship and how music has shaped their lives for the better.
PULSE. A collection of online lessons and materials that support and facilitate music teaching and learning, PULSE focuses on musical styles that originate in popular culture and emphasizes the study of instrumental technique, theoretical understanding, and an awareness of historical context. This project will translate a selected portion of PULSE into Spanish and create two new Latin songs and associated materials and add them to PULSE, train selected educators, and then track and assess PULSE usage in selected Latin American markets.
Interactive On-site Clinics. These on-site clinics are five-day music workshops for up to 200 students with master classes, lectures, and ensembles following Berklee’s proven methodology in teaching musicianship. Through the generous scholarship support from IDB’s Korean Poverty Reduction Fund, Berklee set aside between 20 and 50 seats in each workshop so the neediest students could participate and study with Berklee faculty and alumni.
IDB-Berklee Partnership. During the process of finalizing partnership details, IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno invited Berklee students to perform at the Americas Summit Conference held in Miami, FL, in December 10, 2014. The event was sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and IDB. President Brown followed former U.S. president Bill Clinton onstage to offer an overview of the IDB-Berklee partnership and to introduce students from eight Latin American countries, who then captivated an audience representing three sectors and expertise across industries.
Looking ahead, we excitedly anticipate Berklee’s guest appearance at IDB’s annual conference, which will be held in Seoul, South Korea, in March. Fittingly, South Korea’s prime minister and IDB president Moreno will announce the partnership and introduce Berklee musicians from Latin America and Korea, who will offer a performance filled with the promise of this program intended to identify and support the most talented and disadvantaged students from Latin America.